Meet our Vessel Staff

Pacific Whale Foundation is proud to introduce you to our vessel staff. Our team of experts consists of certified Marine Naturalists, Biologists, U.S. Coast Guard certified Captains and Pursers. Our experts are known for their enthusiastic commitment to ensuring you have a safe, enjoyable, fun and educational ocean cruise with us.

Vessel Staff Managers

Blake Moore
Vessel Staff Director

Blake Moore

Hometown: Lawrenceburg, TN
Education: Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies, with emphasis in Biology from Middle Tennessee State University. Commercial Diver from Divers Academy of the Eastern Seaboard
Experience: Commercial and research diving experience along the U.S. East Coast and Southeastern U.S.; Pacific Whale Foundation educator and Staff/Program Director for 10 years. HIHWNMS Large Whale Entanglement Responder, Haleakala National Park Volunteer Trainer and Guide 
Interests: Traveling, hiking, diving, snorkeling, building things, challenges of any sort

Morgan M. Wittmer
Marine Naturalist, Vessel Staff Manager for Ma'alaea Harbor

Morgan M. Smith

Hometown: Boulder, CO
Education: Bachelors in Biology University of Colorado, Masters in Marine Biology Florida Atlantic University, Certified Interpretive Guide through NAI
Experience: Field work on bugs and birds in Colorado and Costa Rica, Field Technician for the Hawksbill Turtle Monitoring Program, Volcanoes National Park, Science Teacher in the Florida Keys, Teaching Assistant Florida Atlantic University, Turtle Tech, Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, FL, Primate Zoo Keeper at the palm Beach Zoo, FL
Interests: Turtles, animal behavior, diving, snorkeling, hiking, eating, traveling and friends

Christy Kozama
Marine Biologist, Vessel Staff Manager for Lahaina Harbor

Christy Kozama

Hometown: Asheville, NC
Education: Bachelors of Science in Marine Biology from The College of Charleston
Experience: Studied a year abroad in both Australia and Brazil, interned with a bottlenose dolphin project in Sardinia, Italy, interned with the navy marine mammal training program, worked at sea world as a dolphin trainer, spent 3 winters as a ski bum in mammoth lakes, lived in a VW van for 5 months while traveling around central america, happily married for 10 years.
Interests: Being spunky, nature, Brazil, surfing, ocean kritters, talking at a really high pitch when excited, saying inappropriate things, hiking, speaking Portuguese, wearing pant suits, sabering champagne bottles, being the cover girl for aquaballin', and meeting new people.

Marine Naturalists ~ Ma'alaea Harbor

Mary Ichniowski
Marine Naturalist

Mary Ichniowski

Hometown: Silver Spring, MD
Education: BA in Biology with a minor in Environmental Studies
Experience: Program Director for CIMI Tallship Expeditions, Marine Science Director and Program Director for Sail Caribbean
Interests: Camping, hiking, freshwater, zee SCUBA, blue ribbon award winning microbrews, swimming

Josh Galvan
Marine Naturalist

Josh Galvan

Hometown: Redlands, CA
Education: Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies and Economics with emphasis in Conservation Biology
Experience: NAUI Dive Instructor at the Catalina Island Marine Institute, Catalina Island, CA, Research. Intern at the Ventana Wildlife Society Condor Recovery Program, Big Sur, CA. Interpreter at Natural Bridges State Beach, Santa Cruz, CA. Naturalist and Outdoor Educator at San Mateo Outdoor Education, La Honda, CA
Interests: Diving, surfing, family, and Catan

Hannah Pittore
Marine Naturalist

Hannah Pittore

Hometown: Rockport, MA
Education: B.S. in Biology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst
Experience: Intern at the Whale Center of New England, Whale Watch Research and Education Intern at the New England Aquarium in Boston, MA and Whale Watch Naturalist at the New England Aquarium in Boston, MA.
Interests: Traveling, photography, snorkeling, cooking, going to the beach, gardening, swimming, adventuring, crafting, laughing, and hanging with friends.

Josh Wittmer
Marine Naturalist

Josh Wittmer

Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA
Education: Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science, with emphasis in Marine Scence from Allegheny College with Off Campus Study at the Duke University Marine Lab and the Bermuda BIOStation
Experience: State of Hawaii DLNR DAR Research Diver, PADI Divemaster, Maui Ocean Center Curatorial Diver, Science Instructor at Seacamp/NHMI in the Florida Keys, REEF Intern, Americorps Watershed
Interests: Hiking, photography, surfing, travel, relaxation, horticulture, cephalopods, stomatopods, and fish

Ben Campbell
Marine Naturalist

Ben Campbell

Hometown: Salem, OR
Education: B.S. Biology with emphasis on marine biology, minor in chemistry from Oregon State University
Experience: Research assistant with OSU branch of PISCO studying intertidal areas in Oregon and California. Field assistant for NOAA fisheries studying juvenile salmon mortality in the Columbia river. Marine science instructor at Catalina Island marine istitute. Naui dive master
Interests: Water, diving, snorkeling, fish, camping, making awesome food, eating awesome food, going to the movies

Mike Donohoe
Marine Naturalist

Mike Donohoe

Hometown: Columbus, OH
Education: B.A. Zoology - Miami University
Experience: Character Ambassador Columbus Zoo, Swim Coach, Turtle Conservation in DC, Turtle Hospital in South GA, SeaCamp in Florida Keys
Interests: Swimming, freediving, bodysurfing, water falls, sunsets, beers, partner dancing

Jackson Dowd
Marine Naturalist

Jackson Dowd

Hometown: Raleigh, NC
Education: B.A. Wilderness Leadership and Experiential Education from Brevard College
Experience: Instructor at Catalina Island Marine Institute and CIMI tallship Expeditions. Field Instructor at Second Nature Blue Ridge. Field Guide for Coastal Kayak Eco-touring Co.
Interests: Diving, chess/go, sci-fi geek things, mopeds, cycling, cooking, hiking/backpacking, climbing, surfing

Alyssa Moser
Marine Naturalist

Alyssa Moser

Hometown: Tucson, AZ
Education: Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies, emphasis on Environmental Science, Spanish and Education from the University of Arizona
Experience: Instructor/ Deckhand/ Assistant Program Director for CIMI Tall Ship Expeditions aboard the Tole Mour. Intern with the University of Arizona for Community Gardens with the Tucson Unified School District.
Interests: Ultimate frisbee, adventures, eating, snorkeling, sharks, camping, NPR, dinosaurs, tricking kids into learning, coffee, sailing

Katelyn Herman
Marine Naturalist

Katelyn Herman

Hometown: Newnan, GA
Education: Bachelor of Science in Biology with an emphasis in Marine Science from the University of Georgia
Experience: Intern with the Georgia Dolphin Ecology Program, Research Assistant at UGA, Lead Naturalist at Alaska Travel Adventures
Interests: Traveling, scuba diving, reading, hiking, attempting to surf, running, and, most importantly, charades.

Anya Vierra
Marine Naturalist

Anya Vierra

Hometown: info coming soon
Education: info coming soon
Experience: info coming soon
Interests: info coming soon

Nate Formel
Marine Naturalist

Nate Formel

Hometown: Guaynabo, PR
Education: Bachelor of Science in Biology w/ a Concentration in Marine Biology from Northeastern University, Master of Science in Marine Affairs and Policy from University of Miami
Experience: East-West/Three Seas Marine Biology Program at Northeastern University, Professional Intern at Disney World's Living Seas Aquarium, NAUI Dive Instructor, Marine Science Instructor at the Catalina Island Marine Institute, Everglades Freshwater Research Tech with Florida International University, Sail and Marine Science Instructor w/ Sail Caribbean, Coral research assistant at the Rosenstiel School, Coral survey diver with the Living Oceans Foundation
Interests: Diving, underwater photography, surfing, assorted boardgames, adventuring and exploring, the ocean

Brian Totman
Marine Naturalist

Brian Totman

Hometown: Mission Viejo Ca
Education: BS Biology, Long Beach State MA Secondary education, UC Irvine
Experience: US Peace Corps Namibia, taught math and science Dubai UAE, taught science at a private school
Interests: Surfing, hiking, traveling, and all things bacon

Callen Miracle
Marine Naturalist

Callen Miracle

Hometown: Youngstown, OH
Education: B.A. Biology and Environmental Studies, Oberlin College
Experience: Marine Science Instructor/Aquarist at Catalina Island Marine Institute, CA, Naturalist/Educator at Rutledge Marine Laboratory, NH, Research Associate in Green Reef, Belize
Interests: Music, cooking, science/learning, hiking/exploring, freediving

Brian Jacques
Marine Naturalist

Brian Jacques

Hometown: San Luis Obispo, CA
Education: BS Biology, Sonoma State University, CA
Experience: Research Assistant at SSU Ecology,Naturalist at Safari West, African Wildlife Preserve in Northern California. Research Intern at PWf
Interests: Scuba diving, free diving, snowboarding, surfing, and baseball

Phoebe Wallace
Marine Naturalist

Phoebe Wallace

Hometown: Boise, Idaho
Education: B.S in Biology with an Emphasis in Ecology, Boise State University
Experience: Research assistant at Refuge Romelia on the Nicoya peninsula of Costa Rica primarily collecting data for nesting Olive Ridley sea turtles and their hatchlings as well as reforestation, mammal monitoring, volunteer management and environmental education.
Interests: Adventuring, exploring, traveling, and enjoying wildlife!

Tyler Hubbell
Marine Naturalist

Tyler Hubbell

Hometown: Grover Beach, CA
Education: B.S. Marine Biology, B.A. Environmental Studies from University of California Santa Cruz
Experience: California State Parks Lifeguard, SC Regional team manager for start up environmental educartion non-profit Sprout Up, programs and operations associate for Oceanseed Project designing and teaching marine science to juvenile delinquents, docent tour guide at seymour marine discovery center. Scientific Scuba certified.
Interests: Surfing, skateboarding, hiking, backpacking, photography, scuba, free diving, snowboarding, sky diving, bird watching, and stargazing

Courtney Cox
Marine Naturalist

Courtney Cox

Hometown: Eagan, MN
Education: B.S. In Marine Science (Biology) with a minor in Psychology from Eckerd College
Experience: Eckerd College Dolphin Project Lead Researcher and Boat Operator, Bahamas Marine Mammal Research Organization Research Assistant, Eckerd College Recreational Programs: Wakeboarding Driver and Supervisor, NOAA Dolphin SMART Evaluator, Mote Marine Lab Dolphin and Whale Hospital, Senior Thesis on the Behavioral Ecology of Calf and Juvenile Bottlenose Dolphins within Boca Ciega Bay, FL
Interests: Swimming, scuba diving, all things ocean related, photography, working with kids, exploring, adventuring, and loving dolphins!

Laura Lundby
Marine Naturalist

Laura Lundby

Hometown: San Diego, CA
Education: B.S. Wildlife Management, Humboldt State University
Experience:Senior Mammal Keeper San Diego Wild Animal Park, Peace Corps Volunteer in Thailand, wildlife/fisheries biologist Grand Teton and Glacier National Parks, fisheries/range biologist, Forest Service, Sign Illustrator at San Diego Zoo.
Interests: Surfing, hiking, drawing/painting, being blown away by nature, camping, going out to breakfast and costume parties

Anna Garner
Marine Naturalist

Profile photo coming soon

Hometown: Anchorage, AK
Education: B.A. Environmental Science Willamette University
Experience: Sailing in Alaska, Coral research in the Caribbean, LOTS of whale watching
Interests: Diving, hiking, rock climbing, nerd stuff, celestial navigation, knife throwing

Torsten Durkan
Marine Naturalist

Torsten Durkan

Hometown: Haiku, HI
Education: Graduated from the University of Hawaii at Manoa with a BA Psychology and Biology

Alana Yurkanin
Marine Biologist

Alana Yurkanin

Hometown: info coming soon
Education: info coming soon
Experience: info coming soon
Interests: info coming soon

Jay Demeranville
Marine Biologist

Jay Demeranville

Hometown: info coming soon
Education: info coming soon
Experience: info coming soon
Interests: info coming soon

Marine Naturalists ~ Lahaina Harbor

Chris Cilfone
Marine Naturalist

Chris Cilfone

Hometown: Torrington, CT
Education: Bachelors of Science in Marine Biology and Film Theory from The University of Rhode Island, The University of Alaska Southeast and The University of Alabama (ROLL TIDE)
Experience: Coast guard sponsored marine mammal surveys, video editor for Discovering Alabama, data analysis of sand tiger sharks along the eastern seaboard, science instructor/staff photographer at Seacamp/NHMI.
Interests: Ocean, watching movies, making movies, GoPro, Jennifer Lawrence, Be Blue, ukulele, twerking, Mother Nature and Mother Discovery, not pronouncing g's at the end of any -ing word, Carl Sagan, hiking, Biggie, camping, adventuring and mango margaritas.

Heather Spillane
Marine Naturalist

Heather Spillane

Hometown: Canton, MI
Education: Bachelors of Science in Sociology from The University of Michigan, Masters of Science in Environmental Management from The University of Queensland Honors research project at James Cook University.
Experience: Shedd Aquarium, research assistant at the University of Queensland, coral reef surveys for Wild Mob
Interests: Sleeping on couches, nature, camping on the beach, keeping secrets, football, fireball, being underwater, being awesome, scuba, travel, puppies, geography, being a nerd and getting lost on this road called life.

Jackie Ellis
Marine Naturalist

Jackie Ellis

Hometown: Columbus, GA
Education: Bachelors of Science in Biology from Columbus State University
Experience: Great white shark research in South Africa with the Oceans Research Team, research intern with PWF, coached youth soccer.
Interests: Soccer, sharks, dolphins, hashtags, dancing badly, karaoke, taking my allergy medication, going on adventures, Harry Potter (favorite character: Lavender Brown), hiking, Canada, music, scuba, social media, hanging out and living life.

Jackson Kowalski
Marine Naturalist

Jackson Kowalski

Hometown: Keizer, OR
Education: Bachelors of Science in General Biology from The University of Puget Sound
Experience: Shark keeper and giant pacific octopus wrangler at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, swam in college.
Interests: Collegiate swimming, photography, eating fruits, logic, sharks, scuba, constructing mazes for mice to run through, learning science, freediving, slurking, explaining what snickerdoodling means, fitness, going on adventures, the great outdoors, the Pacific Northwest, IPA, and spelunking.

Mark Danielson
Marine Naturalist

Profile photo coming soon

Hometown: Bryn Mawr, PA
Education: Bachelors of Science in Marine Biology from Rollins College
Experience: Eagle Scout, swam in college, played the saxophone for kings, played saxophone with Marty Dread
Interests: Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5, saxophone (stage name Sexy Sax Man Mark), freediving to 102 ft, karaoke, swimming, Dr. Who, GOT, tank tops, Neil deGrasse Tyson, snickerdoodling, blowing bubble rings, hiking, and the Fresh Prince.

Mike Collins
Marine Naturalist

Mike Collins

Hometown: Ewing, NJ
Education: Bachelors of Science in Marine Biology and Creative Writing from Eckerd College
Experience: Research Assistant Sakaerat Research Station Thailand worked with tree frogs, Greenforce South African Great White Shark Volunteer, Bimini Shark Research Station, U.S and British Virgin Island Ecology.
Interests: SHARKS!!!!!!, martial arts, swimming, philosophy, creative writing, soda, traveling, heavy metal historian, radio DJ-ing and quoting films no one has heard of.

Captains

Casey Cohan
Captain

Casey Cohan

Hometown: Wailuku, HI
Education: B.S. Biology Long Island University @ Southampton
Experience: Captain, Mate, Expedition Leader in HI, SE Alaska, Pacific NW, Sea of Cortes. HIHWNMS Large Whale Entanglement Responder.
Interests: Hiking, Music, Traveling, Surfing and time with family

Drew Sulock
Captain

Drew Sulock

Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
Experience: Captain, boat owner, research intern, marine mammal observer
Interests: Diving, photography, rock climbing

Brian Barnes
Captain

Brian Barnes

Hometown: Markle, Pennsylvania
Education: B.A. Environmental Studies, Biology
Experience: Teaching marine science on sailing ships in the Pacific, Atlantic and Caribbean. Green sea turtle research in the Bahamas. Dive Master and Electrician
Interests: Surfing, sailing and diving. Working on old junk cars and motorcycles.

Gabe Wilson
Captain

Gabe Wilson

Hometown: Goldendale, WA
Education: B.S. Wildlife Ecology
Experience: Wildlife management, captain, handyman, 1st mate in San Francisco whale watch
Interests: All ocean activities, hiking, camping, hunting and sports

Curtis Snyder
Captain

Curtis Snyder

Hometown: Wilmington, NC
Education: B.A. Philosophy and Religion with Emphasis in Religion
Experience: Coxswain - U.S. Coast Guard, Mate and Rescue Diver for Carolina Beach Divers Inc., Ocean Lifeguard, Surf Instructor/ Pacific Surf School San Diego Ca., Surf Guide/ Morro Negrito Panama
Interests: Surfing, free diving, scuba diving, hiking, traveling

Joe Yurkanin
Captain

Joe Yurkanin

Hometown: Waikapu, HI
Experience: Master Captain of PWF's Ocean Intrigue

Doug Hunt
Captain

Doug Hunt

Hometown: Missouri
Experience: Former professional windsurfer, hailed as the first person to perform a backflip while windsurfing. Currently a high school football referee, father and Master Captain of PWF's Ocean Voyager

Ben Eisenstein
Captain

Ben Eisenstein

Hometown: info coming soon
Education: info coming soon
Experience: info coming soon
Interests: info coming soon

John Patti
Captain

John Patti

Hometown: Kula, HI
Education: Pacific Maritime Academy
Experience: Passenger vessel operations; Honolulu, San Francisco, Maui
Interests: Livin, Lovin, Music and Kittens

Pursers ~ Ma'alaea Harbor

Jonathan Bader
Purser Lead

Jonathan Bader

Hometown: Acworth, GA
Experience:Landscaping, Maintenance for apartment complexes, Snorkel Boater
Interests:Music, Hiking, Surfing, Cliff Jumping, Snowboarding, Freediving

Tristen See
Purser

Tristen See

Hometown: Clinton, MO
Education: BS Biomedical Science, UCMO. MA Science Education, UCMO
Experience: Truck driver for ice company, shaved ice stand owner, high school science teacher Warsaw H.S., Warsaw, MO. Earned Unified Science Certificate, PLATO Coordinator, Common Core and Data Team
Interests: Anything outdoors, especially float trips and particularly when combined with spelunking

George Allen
Purser

George Allen

Hometown: Stillwater, MN
Education: Current student at University of Hawaii
Experience: Radio Engineer work, Indonesian Furniture Sales, Camp Counseling, Aid work in Nicaragua.
Interests: Hiking, traveling, cliff jumping, camping, sky diving, church, reading, dining, diving, and snorkeling

Ginny Talbot
Purser

Ginny Talbot

Hometown: Farmington Hills, MI
Education: B.A. Linguistics, University of Michigan
Experience: Organic farming in Hawaii and Europe, camp counseling, lots of tutoring
Interests: Hiking, anything aquatic, books, vegan food, church, traveling, and beer

Kevin Semonsen
Purser

Kevin Semonsen

Hometown: El Dorado Hills, CA
Education: BA from UCSC in Environmental policy and economics, minor in Legal studies
Experience: UCSC Environmental Health and Safety, Earth Trek Expeditions, Alterra Renewable Energy, American Whitewater expeditions
Interests: snowboarding, surfing, whitewater kayaking, hiking, freediving, throwing noodles, and teaching people to "do the swim"

Amanda Padilla
Purser

Amanda Padilla

Hometown: Holbrook, Arizona
Education: Studied Biblical Theology, Calvary Chapel Bible College, Kihei HI.
Experience: Hawaii Real Estate agent since 2007. Currently enrolled at University of Hawaii Maui Campus, Marine Option Program, fishing around Maui Nui & Southeast Alaska, Kihei Canoe Club member, Assisted aboard NOAA Entanglement Vessel in observing & recording whale song & competitive groups around West Maui, Whale Trust volunteer, Pacific Whale Research volunteer, Hawaii Wildlife Fund’s Hawksbill Recovery Project: Nesting Turtle Patrols and PADI SCUBA certified
Interests: Traveling, hiking, camping, fishing, diving, playing guitar, jam sessions, cooking, kickboxing, painting, Hamoa Beach, and most of all - my ohana and my dog MAX!

Pursers ~ Lahaina Harbor

Paul Camit
Dinner Manager, Purser

Paul Camit

Hometown: Littleton, CO
Education: Bachelors of Science in Sports and Exercise Science from Brigham Young University in Hawaii
Experience: Humanitarian work for two years in South Georgia, won a push up contest at the taste of Portland festival (89... but he could have kept going)
Interests: Push-up's with no shirt on, health, martial arts, playing the violin, mixing gourmet cocktails, fixing Ocean Discovery, good craft ales, pizza, team work, getting the job done, being in the water, helping the elderly with aerobic exercise, Kaiju, body boarding, movie quoting, and proper form while heavy lifting.

Mariah Frye-Keele
Purser

Mariah Frye-Keele

Education: Portland State University/Washington State University
Experience: Studied in Spain (fluent in spanish), paralegal assistant in Portland.
Interests: Being a sister to Sierra Frye-Keele, long walks on the beach, holding hands, flowy dresses, making up sweet hand shakes, cooking veggie patties, outdoor concerts, traveling, being an advocate for AARP, using all natural deodorant, and being sarcastic.

Mikey Ray
Purser

Mikey Ray

Hometown: Puyallup, WA
Education: Bachelors of Science in Psychology with a minor in Political Science from The University of Hawaii
Experience: Division 1 Rugby (College), high school state rugby champions, founded the Kappa Sigma chapter for The University of Hawaii, with the help of Paul Camit completely revamped Pacific Whale Foundation's dinner cruises making them into the premiere luxury dining at sea experience that our dinner cruises achieve every night, evening crew manager.
Interests: Helping people, singing, business, psychology, humanitarian activities, leaving no person behind.

Sierra Frye-Keele
Purser

Sierra Frye-Keele

Education: Lane Community College
Experience: First came to Hawaii when she was 19 years old and lived in a tent at skydive Hawaii on Oahu's north shore, played on lane community colleges first ever girls soccer team, did a backflip on the Great Wall of China like a ninja, worked at a hot springs resort in Washington, a greenhouse in Wyoming, worked on cruise ships sailing around the Hawaiian islands for 2 years, delivered a ship from Hawaii to the Bahamas through the Panama Canal, and mother of Ocean Quest.
Interests: Being a sister to Mariah Frye-Keele, being a ninja, cooking chicken, traveling all over the world, chocolate croissants, being tiny, making loud noises, wearing pant suits, soda, one piece bathing suits that have a zipper, boats, working hard, laughing, being awkward and the healing power of the ocean.

Jeremiah Kahn
Purser

Profile photo coming soon

Hometown: Virginia Beach, VA
Education: Bachelors of Arts in Music Composition from East Carolina University
Experience: Logged numerous hours jumping out of a plane, raised by dingos, played music alongside Mick Fleetwood and The Future Island.
Interests: Music (both listening and playing), diving of any kind (sky, water, pearl, synchronized, cave), name dropping, being on time, dishing out jokes, antique roller skates (collecting, restoring, using), 90's pop, surfing, not wearing shoes, burritos, and Graphology (the study of handwriting).